So as it turns out, I’m pretty good at getting jobs. I don’t mean to sound cocky here, but I’m operating at a pretty high interview-to-landed-job ratio. Disclaimer: I am not particularly good looking, don’t have “ins” with people in hiring positions nor do I apply for jobs I am wildly over-qualified for.
I have a reasonably high level of confidence when applying for jobs and interviewing. I attribute this to having a firm grasp on reality. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know. I set out to land jobs and projects I know I can deliver on. I do this to avoid being fired and also because I prefer a live a low stress life. This leads me into my first point of becoming an awesome job-getter:
1. Put Yourself in a Position to Succeed
If you’re an entry or mid-level sales person with 2 or 3 years of experience, don’t apply for a Vice President of Sales gig. Find a job that matches your skills and experience. You’re more likely to be promoted within an organization and get your high-level experience that way rather than landing a management/senior-level job based on a new company projecting your potential.
2. Shorten your Resume (1-page!)
You should write a cover letter to accompany every resume you send out. The cover letter is where you can include your ‘objective’ and specific qualifications for the particular position. Most resume templates encourage you to include an objective statement at the top of your resume. You have precious little space (one page!) to quickly and neatly impress with your employment history and skills, don’t waste it with an objective statement. Don’t include a photo unless the job calls for it (model, tv talent). Don’t list responsibilities. If you find it necessary to include details of your past jobs, list accomplishments, awards or special recognition. Don’t include References Available Upon Request–cross that bridge if and when you get to it (typically on the second interview).
Keeping your resume brief leaves something to talk about in the interview and helps build some intrigue about who you are as a person. This isn’t to say your resume should be devoid of personality. Research the companies you apply with to get a feel for the culture – a company’s website can give some insight as to their sense of humor or lack thereof. Don’t be afraid to inject some whimsy into your story if it seems fitting. This is especially relevant for design related jobs.
3. Look Like you Want It
Dress nice. Get a haircut. Cheesy follow-ups and thank you e-mails can make you appear desperate–looking good for the interview will make a good impression and show that you’re a serious professional. Look good, feel good, get job. To clarify, I don’t think following up after an interview is a kiss of death by any means, I just haven’t found it necessary. If you must, a handwritten note is more memorable and sincere and goes a lot further than an e-mail or phone call. If you’re some type of visual designer consider developing a creative leave behind as a reminder of your meeting.
4. Apply for Jobs While You Have One
Maybe you’re happy at your current job. You make decent coin, like your co-workers and exceed expectations with regard to your role. Great. It never hurts to talk. Maybe you skim the online job postings in your area once a month to be aware of what’s out there. Your dream job may be hiring and you wouldn’t know if you didn’t explore. Maybe a corporate headhunter seeks you out via a networking event or through LinkedIn. Don’t wait until you’re jobless or unhappy to begin your job search. Keep your ear to the street and don’t be afraid to inquire about interesting opportunities. Play the field a little. The worst thing that can happen is that you use a new job offer to leverage a better situation with your current employer. It says something about your ambition that you’re looking to improve your situation and the certainty of being employed will contribute to your confidence in the interview. Shoot for the stars–if you fall you land on a cloud.
5. Interviews Are a Two-Way Street
This last piece of wisdom was bestowed upon me by my wife in attempt to calm my nerves before an interview a few years back. She reminded me that I was qualified. She said the company I was interviewing with would be lucky to have me. Most importantly, she told me to keep in mind that I was interviewing them as well.
An in-person interview is an opportunity for you, the prospective employee, to determine if this is somewhere you could realistically be happy, successful and fulfilled. Now, every time I am asked “why do you want to work here?” I reply with a compliment about the company’s reputation or work and then state that I am hoping to determine whether or not this would be a good fit for both sides of the arrangement. Don’t oversell yourself – your dream job could turn out to be a nightmare. Be observant.
6. Do a Little House Cleaning
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that people responsible for making hires will Google your name. What you may not have considered is that they will inspect publicly shared social networking profiles. Keep in mind that if you tweet using your real name or have a public Facebook profile you will be judged on what you share. Skim your timeline and clean up tweets you may or may not have sent out while at Happy Hour.
I follow companies I am interested in on Twitter to get a feel for their voice in social media and to stay current on company news and work. If you choose to twitter stalk a company you may like to work for in the future (which I recommend) don’t go out of your way to get their attention. Being too casual on social networks comes across as unprofessional. Engage if and only if you have a true purpose.
These are a few of the general guidelines I follow and consider when job hunting and interviewing. Have some other job shark tips? Feel free to share them in the comments.